Is an idea meritocracy the way to encourage experimentation in your organisation?

Firstly you may be asking yourself what is an idea meritocracy? This is an ideology and way of working that let’s the best idea win regardless of who the idea comes from. Successful companies such as Bridgewater associates and Pixar animation studios use such techniques to build a culture of radical transparency and this ensures that innovation continues to prosper.

A quick aside, I wrote this blog a few weeks ago sitting at the Amazing V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and then forgot to publish it. The picture below was taken on the day. ADVERT: Cape Town is an amazing place to start a business!

I first came across this idea from Ray Dalio’s book Principles and would highly recommend that you read this book. Bridgewater Associates which Dalio founded over 40 years ago runs on a radically transparent culture and is the number one hedge fund in the world. The stories in the book are amazing such as junior employees having the openness to tell Ray Dalio that his performance in a meeting was D- and that he was obviously unprepared. There are many organisations where this would be seen as insubordination but not at Bridgewater where honest feedback is valued and required.

This type of culture is not an easy one to follow as it is very different to what many of us know but I believe that it is a very good model to use to promote experimentation. Experimentation requires failure and honest feedback to improve. Where people are punished for failure experimentation is unlikely.

So what steps can you take to move to an idea meritocracy and a radically transparent company culture?

  1. Have an open mind
  2. Learn more about it by reading and studying other companies following this ideology
  3. Discuss this with your team
  4. Implement and know that you will make mistakes and have failures along the way. The important thing to remember is that as long as you are learning from these then you are moving forward

For more information check out this great article by Edward D. Hess that I used when writing this blog.

 

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